"If you are not hungry when you go in to see this movie, you will be when you come out: the food will have you salivating and you may want to leave a tip; mine would be go see it". - MbM 2
EDITORIAL Hi, here is the 15th issue of Movies by Mills, written from my heart and despatched every month to yours. There is major coverage on what makes film so special...and so magical and it is all there in Mood Indigo, one of the most imaginative films that you are likely to see this or any year. Michel Gondry has directed a masterpiece that needs, and will, be revisited again and again, and at each re-showing you will see something that you had not noticed on your last viewing. Some films are entertaining and some are experiential – Mood Indigo is both. As well as a close-up feature on Gondry, there are closeups on Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou, the stars of the film. Further film reviews are included on T S Spivet, Chef and The Fault in Our Stars and are all lavishly illustrated. Regular features, Film Fest Follower, looks this month at Karlovy Vary the major international film festival in the Czech Republic. And of course there is MbM’s DVD of the Month – The Book Thief. MbM has always supported the opening of new cinemas or refurbishment plans of old ones. The Odyssey, St Albans, will open this year and its blueprint has inspired MbM to campaign for a cinema to open in the village of Hampton on the site of the Palaceceum, originally The Electric Theatre, which opened in 1912. It is an exciting venture backed by local traders. Each month, MbM will keep you updated on the campaign’s progress. The pipedream has been lit. Finally, I must mention a meeting I had last week in London with Joe Rezwin who was over from Paris. Joe directed Gazzara, homage to the dynamic actor who starred in such memorable films as: End as a Man, Anatomy of a Murder, Husbands, Saint Jack, Opening Night. It was the first time we had met, though we had spoken on the phone a few times. I and devotees of the late Ben Gazzara, owe Joe an enormous debt for making the film on Ben. At our meeting, we conversed on our shared memories, mine cinematic, Joe’s personal, of the great actor. www.gazzarathemovie.com Before wrapping this editorial, my thanks to Asa Martin and Charlotte Presland of Studio Canal, Charlotte Frankum of Lionsgate Films, Milana Vusikov of The Gate Notting Hill, Tim Barros – www.theentertainmentwebsite.com Joe Rezwin, Paul Ridler, MbM’s faithful designer, and you the readers who share my passion.
Brian Mills 3
MOOD INDIGO *Spoiler Alert
My life depends on this moment. If we screw up this moment, we try the next and if we fail the next...we have our whole loves together to get it right. Michel Gondry read “L’Ecume des Jours”, the novel by Boris Vian upon which Mood Indigo is based, two or three times before thinking about turning it into a film. In the book there is a line Colin says: It’s things that change, not people. And it is worth bearing that in mind when viewing this extraordinary film because Gondry does not see people aging but sees their photos growing youthful. He applies that to objects: bringing them to life by changing their purpose is something he finds very exciting. So right from the outset Gondry was in tune with the inventive mind of Vian. Mood Indigo is a poetic tale of Colin, an idealistic and inventive young man, and Chloe, a young woman who seems like the physical embodiment of the eponymous Duke Ellington tune. Their ideal marriage is turned upside down when Chloe falls sick with a water lily growing in her lung. To pay for her medical bills in this fantasy version of Paris, Colin must go out to work in a series of increasingly absurd jobs, while around them, their apartment disintegrates and their friends go to pieces. 4
The film is an abundance of special effects shot on green screen but it was made easier by shooting the scenes at Colin’s apartment chronologically. Mood Indigo is Michel Gondry’s most personal film to date. Besides the strong influence of the book, there are visual choices linked to his childhood: the walkway that links buildings, the construction site at Les Halles, which was the Paris he remembers from his youth. He could identify with Chloe’s illness because he lived with a wife suffering from a serious illness, from which fortunately she recovered and he knows that feeling of shame you have because you’re lucky enough to be healthy. And of course Colin’s apartment which epitomises Gondry’s inventiveness through his protagonist; the famous “pianocktail” which makes cocktails as you play inspired by his grandfather’s invention of a synthesizer, the calvioline, which worked with valves. So Gondry’s self-indulgence of making the world he knows as a cornucopia of ideas with an added dose of controlled chaos. Does it work? I went into this film without any knowledge of Vian’s book, but came away with a desired intention of reading it. This is a film to be experienced and watched again and again to savour its uniqueness. Romain Duris as Colin and Audrey Tautou as Chloe make the fantastic story believable because they are ideally matched because of their association of working together. The supporting cast is faultless, but particularly Omar Sy who plays Colin’s lawyer, cook, driver and mentor. In the magical kitchen, he receives instructions from his master and model, Jules Goufle to produce these exotic dishes and Omar does this with the childlike wonder of a six-yearold. Mood Indigo will be released at art house cinemas in the UK on August 1st. 5
CLOSE UP ROMAIN DURIS Being in the right place at the right moment has launched that first vital step to an acting career for many, and for Romain Duris it was standing outside a school and being spotted by a casting director which led to Claude Klapish choosing him to star in his next, and Duris’s first film, Le Peril Jeune. He has since appeared in six other films by the director; two of those: L’Auberge Espagnole and Russian Dolls he played Xavier, who reunites with his friends 5 years after their first meeting in Spain. I first met him at a Press Screening for the romantic comedy Populaire, which was the first main feature MbM reviewed, see the June 2013 issue. The handshake was accompanied by an engaging smile as we were ushered into a small room. It was the kind of casual familiarity that seemed as natural as his films which replayed on the screen of my mind. The Beat That My Heart Skipped in which Duris gave an extraordinary performance as a young man torn between a life of crime and his aspirations of being a concert pianist was a gripping noir thriller, a remake of James Toback’s cult 1978 film “Fingers”. He was taught to play the piano by his concert pianist sister. Russian Dolls followed, and then 5 years later he starred opposite Vanessa Paradis in the top notch romantic comedy Heartbreaker. He played Alex a charming, funny and effortlessly break-up artist who is hired by a successful businessman to sabotage the relationship of a seemingly perfect relationship. But when Alex meets independent Juliette he finds the perfect relationship doesn’t exist. The wonderful dance sequence, homage to “Dirty Dancing”, is exhilarating and exciting and would breathe life into a cadaver. With this film, Duris’s career was spiralling upward and he was playing the lead in Populaire opposite Deborah Francois. After Mood Indigo released on August 1st, Romain will be seen in Francois Oxon’s The New Girlfriend which is based on a novel by British author Ruth Rendell. It tells the story of Claire, a young woman who goes into depression after her best girlfriend’s death. She eventually finds the strength to embrace life after discovering an unexpected secret about her late friend’s husband. 8
CLOSE UP AUDREY TAUTOU Named after Audrey Hepburn, whom some say she resembles, Audrey Tautou is one of France’s acting treasures, a gift bestowed upon us by cinematic benefactors who in their wisdom recognized a talent that needed to be seen and savoured. It is in her own country’s films that she excels and is most comfortable; though on occasion she has been wooed by Hollywood: The Libertine and The Da Vinci Code, and though her performances have been good, their system of filmmaking is so different from that in France and really not her style. I think it is difficult for French people to work in Hollywood because it is such a huge industry, and to be able to create some space for yourself is a hard job. Plus, the language doesn’t help. You can work abroad only as a foreign character. Then there’s the French film industry, which is not amazingly well, but is able to finance big productions. We have wonderful directorsthey may not be as famous as Steven Spielberg, but they bring me so much pleasure. It was Jean-Pierre Jeunet who cast Audrey in Amelie after seeing her on a poster of the movie Venus Beauty, which was Audrey’s first feature film. Playing the title role of Amelie Poulain , a young woman who discovers her true vocation in life is to help others find love and happiness, won her a Cesar nomination at Cannes. Jeunet directed her too in A Very Long Engagement in which she played Mathilde, a woman relentlessly searching for her fiancé who disappeared from the trenches of the Somme during World War One. Cedric Klapisch directed her in L’Auberge Espagnole. Russian Dolls and Chinese Puzzle, all opposite Romain Duris. At present she is filming Eternity with Melanie Laurent and Berenice Bejo, which will be released next year. I always play strong-minded characters. I think it’s maybe because I’m like that. I love being by myself. I have very eclectic tastes, but it’s important for me that a movie be sensitive, clever and subtle. Audrey has had a song named after her, titled “Tautou” it is the first track on the album “Deja Entendu” by the band Brand New. It is short and has only two lines of lyrics: I’m sinking like a stone in the sea. I’m burning like a bridge for your body. 11
MICHEL GONDRY Michel Gondry is an innovative creator and from the same mold as his friend Spike Jonze; both have a record of making short music videos and short films sandwiched between their full-length feature films. Gondry had an influence on Icelandic star Bjork, who saw his work and invited him to make the first of five videos for her, and interestingly enough on a project for a music video which wasn’t made, but in which the objects were like animals. The idea that things are almost more alive than people was a springboard for his imagination which can clearly been seen in Mood Indigo. As a child, he had a book that took everyday objects – which you might find in the kitchen, and turned them into other things. It took a bleach bottle and turned it into the Apollo space rocket. He found it enormously stimulating to take an existing object, something that had already been thought out in terms of its design and to turn it into something else. That was the starting point for the cars, we turned them around, turned the back ends into the fronts and vice-versa. He has stated that he often dreams that he is going to live again at his parent’s house and in his dream, the house has shrunk. Or maybe the streets around have changed: garages have been built. Trees have grown. The decay and shrinking of Colin’s apartment comes from that. Gondry is obsessed with the differences that exist between places of the past and those of today. Like Spike Jonze, Gondry collaborated with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman for his first film, the satire Human Nature. It was with Kaufman again that he reached the heights of screen immortality with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo. It was wildly eccentric and well before its time. Joel (Jim Carrey) is stunned to find that his girlfriend, Clementine (Kate Winslet), has had their tumultuous relationship erased from her mind. Out of desperation, he contacts the inventor of the process, Dr Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson), to get the same treatment. But as his memories of Clementine begin to fade, Joel suddenly realizes how much he still loves her. Michel Gondry is a fantasist in the true sense of the word who invites us to embark on his flights of magical surrealism. 14
T. S. SPIVET AKA “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet.” *Spoiler Alert
Your invention has won our prestigious Baird Award. Wow! Tomorrow I will go to Washington DC to claim my award. But the winner who answered that call and sets off on his journey is only 12years-old. His name is T.S Spivet and his father is a cowboy and his mother is a scientist. The story, based on the bestselling novel by Reif Larsen, “The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet,” is as inventive as its protagonist but then the director of the film is Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who made one of France’s most successful and imaginative films: Amelie. T.S. is a gifted cartographer who has invented a perpetual motion machine. He sets off secretly, leaving his parents a note and jumps on a freight train to make his way across the United States to receive his prize at the Smithsonian Institute. He takes with him a dark secret which is not revealed until the end of the film. On his journey he meets a few quirky characters, among them an old sailor who resembles Popeye and is named Two Clouds. Occasionally T.S. has conversations with his dead brother who materialises out of nowhere. Interspersed throughout the movie to emphasise the poetic fantasy and the boy’s brilliant mind are charts, sketches and maps. The weight of the film falls on the young shoulders of Kyle Catlett as T.S. It is his first feature film and he handles it well, even if some 17
of the emotional scenes prove a little challenging for him. Helena Bonham Carter is reliable as always in playing T.S’s mother with just the correct amount of scientific quirkiness that is needed for the role. The father is played by Callum Keith Rennie, a character actor who has never moved to anything above that, and I would like to see what he would do if he was given the chance. T.S Spivet was screened in 3D which for once enhanced its viewing rather than distracting one from its story, which is a rarity. How the film performs at the box office remains to be seen but audiences going in expecting something different from Jean-Pierre Jeunet will not be disappointed. Jeunet gained respect and critical recognition with the black comedy Delicatessen. The futuristic surreal story is about a society that uses food as currency because of its scarcity. The delicatessen is located on the ground floor of an apartment building, the owner of the building runs the eatery and he is seeking a new maintenance man as his former one mysteriously disappeared. A clown applies and is given the job and the butcher’s intent is to have the man work for him for awhile and then serve him up to his quirky tenants. The clown and the butcher’s daughter fall in love and she tries to foil her father’s plans by contacting the ‘trogs’, a grain eating sub-group who live entirely undergound. This film is in contrast to Amelie except for its fantastic storyline. Amelie Poulin has been raised by over-protective parents and consequently retreats into a world of her own. When she finally leaves home, strange events occur including a life -changing one when she discovers a tin box containing a boy’s mementos. Inspired by this, Amelie embarks on a quest to help others find love and happiness – which she sets about in her own unique and magical way. Amelie was played by Audrey Tautou. 18
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS *Spoiler Alert I believe we have a choice in this world, not how to tell such stories. On the one hand you can sugarcoat it and nothing is messed up that can’t be fixed with a Peter Gabriel song. I like that version as much as the next girl does. It’s just not the truth. If you liked Beaches, Love Story, Shadowlands then this is your box of tissues. Hazel (Shailene Woodley) is a 16 year old girl who has Stage 4 thyroid cancer that has metastasized in her lungs, forcing her to carry an oxygen tank with her at all times. At a cancer support centre, she meets Gus (Ansel Elgort), a cancer survivor and they fall in love. Gus doesn’t want to talk about their cancer but about what they like, what they share, what they feel passionate about. Gus persuades Hazel to go to Amsterdam, where she meets writer, Peter van Houten (Willem Dafoe), author of her favourite book “A Stately Suffering” which she has read over and over. In Anne Frank’s house, they kiss for the first time, and later in the hotel they make love. Upon Hazel’s return to America, Gus’ condition worsens, and Hazel meets his best friend Isaac to grant his wish, to commit in advance to their funerals so that he can live to see their obituaries. The film is written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber, writers of the excellent 500 Days of Summer, which was smart, sexy and seriously funny; in complete contrast to the subject matter of this film. 21
The reason that the film works at all is because of its actors. Shailene Woodley got her major break in The Descendants opposite George Clooney. It was directed by Alexander Payne and concerned a land baron who tries to connect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident. Next came, The Spectacular Now, written again by Neustadter and Weber. A hard partying high school senior’s philosophy on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical “nice girl”. Her reaction to the script of The Fault in Our Stars: I always know intuitively whether a script is something I fall in love with or not. I get butterflies. If I get butterflies, it’s something I’ll fight for. Ansel Elgort He has also appeared opposite Shailene in Divergence, currently on release. He is a very convincing young actor with a very bright future. Willem Dafoe is the one actor who can lift a film to greater heights and he does this with his role as van Houten, the somewhat cynical, somewhat drunk, somewhat crazy author. He is the one character who shows all of his faults and vulnerabilities and crosses the line to our reluctant acceptance of his being. Few actors could pull this off but the casting here is brilliant. The one questionable point is in the handling of the material by director Josh Boone, who seemed to see this film as another “Titanic”. Cancer is the iceberg we are going to hit eventually. Through his characters he does not have the answers to the universe, but fortunately for him, he has seasoned screenwriters who can tweak an indie feel about the film and avoid the undertone of mawkishness. So the fault is not in the stars but in the direction, but fortunately is saved to be an entertaining film. 22
CHEF *Spoiler Alert
I might not be doing everything great in my life but I’m good at this. I get to touch people’s lives with what I do and want to share this with you. Jon Favreau is an actor, writer and director serving these titles well and in his latest film he wears all three hats. As an actor he was in six episodes of Friends, Something’s Gotta Give, Happy Hogan in Iron Man, and in The Wolf of Wall Street. He cut his teeth as a director in Cowboys and Aliens, two genres in one. And here he is starring in and writing and directing a foodie movie. So let us get to the main dish before it gets cold. Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a chef who clashes with Ramsey Michel( Oliver Platt) the top Los Angeles food critic who has criticized his unimaginative cooking which leads to a confrontation between Carl and the critic which hits the social network which leads to Carl retaliating by cooking his own recipes. His boss Riva (Dustin Hoffman) angrily reacts by telling him he either cooks what’s on the menu or leaves. So Carl quits. 25
He takes his culinary skills on the road when his wife’s first husband, Marvin, played by Robert Downey Junior, buys him a food wagon. The new food truck business has a beneficial effect on his relationship with his estranged wife, Inez (Sofia Vergara) and also his son, Peter (Emjay Anthony) who suddenly finds he is getting some quality time with his dad who teaches him to cook. Robert Downey Junior as Marvin, milks the one scene he is in as a mind-playing business man. While Scarlett Johansson who plays Molly, the optimistic restaurant hostess and support for Carl, is excellent too. Favreau did his own cooking for the film having trained for 6 weeks in restaurants run by restaurateur Roy Choi and then got to work in one of Choi’s food trucks. The food is enhanced by the visual display of the food and there is a relish of Cuban music as an exciting side platter. Chef joins other food-themed films: Babette’s Feast, Big Night, Julie & Julia, Like Water for Chocolate, Eat Drink Man Woman, Fried Green Tomatoes, Mostly Martha, Chocolat, and Romantics Anonymous, all tempting your taste-buds. If you are not hungry when you go in to see this movie, you will be when you come out: the food will have you salivating and you may want to leave a tip; mine would be - go see it. UK Release date: June 20. 26
FILMFEST FOLLOWER MbM RECOMMENDS July 4th to 12th
Karlovy Vary 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH Directed by Iain Forsyth & Janet Pollard. Nick Cave starts another day, the alarm clock waking him up and then a walk on the beach....
ANYWHERE ELSE Directed by Esther Amrami Starring: Neta Riskin Germany. Noa has felt freer in Berlin than her native Israel, nevertheless she unexpectedly decides to return home. The joy of reunion is quickly replaced by her aversion to the monotony of customs and rituals and the incessant fear of danger
BERTOLUCCI ON BERTOLUCCI Directed by Luca Guardagnino & Walter Fasano A unique portrait of maestro filmmaker Bertolucci; his aspirations, his health, his memories. A must-see for film students.
BOYHOOD Directed by Richard Linklater. Starring: Ellar Coltrane. Patricia Arquette. Ethan Hawke.. 12 years in the making, documenting a young boyâ€™s life to adulthood: the ups and downs that many of us can relate to.
DELIGHT Directed Gareth Jones Starring: Gavin Fowler. Jeanne Bolibar Film editor Milena is in love with Vladimir but their shaky relationship is mainly based on texting. 29
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY – HIM Directed by Ned Benson Starring: Jessica Chastain. James McAvoy A relationship is seen from the perspective of the male.
GRAND PIANO Directed by Eugenio Miea Starring: Elijah Wood. John Cusack. A prodigious pianist playing for his life as an unseen gunman threatens to kill him at the first missed note.
IT FOLLOWS Directed by David Robert Mitchell Starring: Linda Boston High School student Jay starts having alarming nightmares that someone is following her. What is worse, she is convinced that if they catch her, she will die.
KUMIKO – THE TREASURE HUNTER Directed by.David Zellner Starring:Rinko Kikuchi. A young woman sets out from Tokyo to Minnesota where beneath a winter’s landscape, treasure lies buried.
MEMPHIS Directed by Tim Sutton Starring: Willis Earl Beal Walking down the streets of Memphis, you might stumble across a divine musician.
THE WONDERS Directed by Alice Rohrwacher Starring: Monica Bellucci The shooting of the television show contest “Countryside Wonders”, which has the entire area buzzing, shakes the confidence of an idealistic man, who thinks the reins of family are slipping from his grasp. 30
EXTRAS DVD OF THE MONTH
THE BOOK THIEF
Directed by Brian Percival Starring: GEOFFREY RUSH. EMILY WATSON. SOPHIE NELISE.
FILM *** The story of Liesel (Sophie Nelise), an extraordinary young girl sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany. Stars: Geoffrey Rush. Emily Watson. Read the film review in the March issue of Movies by Mills.
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